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South African copper producing firm Palabora Mining Company has offered a contract to Johnson Controls to supply chillers for cooling underground mining operations

copper__ChristianToennesenExtreme heat during mining operations can damage mines and shorten its life. (Image source: ChristianToennesen/Flickr)

The supplied chillers would work towards keeping the rock temperature at workable levels and increase the life of a copper mine to 2030.

Mining operations at great depths can heat the rock beyond the 28 degrees Celsius wet-bulb temperature requirement. At 31.5 degree Celsius wet-bulb temperature, the mine would have to shut down and be evacuated.

To keep mines safe and operational, Johnson Controls has developed a phased-installation of four YORK Compound Centrifugal Chillers.

Palabora is presently mining at 1,200 metres below the surface where the virgin rock temperature is 47 degrees Celsius. The company is planning to mine as deep as 1,600 metres, where the temperature can rise to 57 degrees Celsius.

Senior engineering advisor at Palabora Mining, Gavin Meredith, said, “As Palabora enters the early works stage, our designs are being refined and the chillers are vital to enable operations.

“Our existing ventilation equipment, an 18MW ammonia plant located on the surface, is running at full capacity and mining this far underground makes it unfeasible to cool from the surface.

“The chillers are intended to perform well in specific environments,” said Russell Hattingh, engineering contracts manager at Johnson Controls Systems and Services, South Africa.